The Land No Country Wants to Claim

August 9, 2023

bir tawil

There is an area of land between Egypt and Sudan that nobody wants and has been unclaimed by either nation. The 795 square miles of land in the shape of a trapezoid called Bir Tawil is the only piece of unclaimed land in the world outside of Antarctica (where no land can be claimed because of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty).

Bir Tawil is mostly desert and mountains and has no appreciable natural resources. The countries of Egypt and Sudan would rather have another disputed portion of land east of Bir Tawil instead called the Hala’ib Triangle. It has fertile soil and is a much larger area of land. But there’s a problem. An 1899 border treaty says the Hala’ib Triangle is Egypt’s, while a 1902 treaty says it belongs to Sudan. This leaves Bir Tawil as an owner-less, unwanted piece of land.

But there have been a few people wanting to take ownership of the land for one reason or another though no country wants to touch it. In June 2014, American Jeremiah Heaton planted a flag there so his daughter could be a princess. Heaton, along with his family, named it the Kingdom of North Sudan and wanted to make the land a scientific test site to improve global food security, as well as a server farm for the free exchange of information. He began to sell knighthoods and citizenship to his imaginary country. Later that year, in December 2014, a Russian named Dmitry Zhikharev also claimed ownership of the land, naming it “the Kingdom of Middle Earth.”

Three years later, in November 2017, an Indian programmer named Suyash Dixit drove to the area and planted a flag while Indian media followed him.

The latest claim on the land happened in 2019 with the new nation being called the Kingdom of the Yellow Mountain. The announcement was made in a YouTube video by the kingdom’s supposed Prime Minister, Lebanese-American Nadera Awad Nasif. Nasif claimed that the kingdom was launched during a conference in Ukraine. She read from a statement, but much of the details about the new country were left out.

It appears that Bir Tawil will remain legitimately unclaimed for many years to come.

Sources: Global Post, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Egypt Independent

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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